Last year, Kamaru Usman drafted in Justin Gaethje as a sparring partner for his scheduled fight with Gilbert Burns.
‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ was preparing to defend his welterweight belt for the second time against his Brazilian opponent only for Burns to contract COVID-19 and pull out.
In stepped Jorge Masvidal, who Usman beat and remain unbeaten in the UFC.
Burns trained with Usman at Sandford MMA in Florida, so before Fight Island last summer, the champion decided to switch camps so as to not reveal secrets ahead of the planned scrap.
And it led him to train with lightweight contender Gaethje in Denver, with the pair working under the tutelage of Trevor Wittman.
Given they are both represented by Dominance MMA, seeing the two train together was hardly surprising, but what may come as a shock was the intensity and brutality of the training sessions less than two weeks away from a main event.
Gaethje shared the footage on his Instagram account, with Wittman looking on in the background like an excited spectator.
“Iron sharpens iron,” he wrote. “How much would you pay to watch this for a few rounds? @usman84kg is looking like a straight killer.
“Glad to have him in the room. Just two dudes having fun”.
Although switching between Colorado and Florida would have been a huge upheaval for the 33-year-old, Usman admitted he had planned on making the switch simply because of the surplus of contenders at 170lbs.
“I think eventually I would have changed things up anyway,” he told Low Kick MMA.
“We had a lot of welterweights at that gym. At some point, when you’re training with these guys on a daily basis and you’re the champion of the world, these guys know you in and out and if they get the better of you one day, they’re licking their chops thinking it’s their time.
“A little separation from that is good. It keeps that element of surprise, because these guys feel like they know you.
“One thing I firmly believe is that it’s my work. You can be with a great coach, but if you’re not putting the effort in, that coach isn’t going to help you win. That coach isn’t going to get in and fight for you. I know I put the work in.”
Usman and Gaethje are friends and ahead of UFC 258, spent time together training again and watched the recent Fight Night at the latter’s house.